I do folk-art style of wood carving. My particular specialties are small gnome figures, and walking sticks carved with faces in them. I don’t recall why I started carving gnomes, or walking sticks, for that matter, but my style has some old roots.
American folk carving has its roots and in Scandinavian flat-plane carving. As you can guess, the technique originated in Scandinavia. In flat-plane carving, as the name suggests, the image is made by carving flat planes, or surfaces in the wood. Very little rounding or sanding is used, and tool-marks are usually left on, giving it a rustic appearance. It was brought to the united states by Scandinavian immigrants, and has enjoyed popularity ever since.
Carving, even simple flat-plane carving takes a bit of talent. You have to think about things in three dimensions. You also have to have the right tools for it, as well. I have a set of chisels given to me by my Grandfather. You have to spend a little cash in order to get a decent set of carving knives and chisels. But that’s not to say I don’t use electric tools. You can buy some pretty good electric carving tools that can make your work go a lot easier.
The materials are also essential. The type of wood you use will either help or hinder your carving efforts. Don’t use a very hard wood, like cherry or oak, or you’ll just be wasting time and effort. I’ve tried using pine wood with some success, but it chips very badly, so I wouldn’t suggest it to a beginner. It’s a good wood if you plan on using power tools. Probably the best woods to use are maple and basswood. Maple is hard, but not too hard. It can make a very fine carving, and it’s good for walking sticks as well as figurines. Basswood is a lot softer, but it doesn’t chip like pine. It’s probably the best wood for beginners.
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